By 2035, when Canada’s mandate of only electric vehicles being allowed to be sold as passenger vehicles comes into effect, there won’t be much impact on the automotive aftermarket, relatively speaking — just an estimated 5 per cent of EVs on roads will be 8 years old or older.
However, it’s projected that electrification components will make up nearly 40 per cent of growth in the parts market between now and 2030 — and even more as the years progress.
“So as we’ve been telling members for several years now: If you look long term, if you want to grow faster than the market — and what business doesn’t — we can’t be ostriches and put our heads in the sand. We need to innovate,” Paul McCarthy, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.
EVs do bring less maintenance with no spark plugs, belts or oil changes.
“But we shouldn’t jump off the bridge quite yet,” McCarthy said during the AASA’s Mobility Technology Conference which was forced to be a virtual event due to Hurricane Ian hitting Florida.
Tires and suspension have perhaps been the most talked about components that will bear the brunt of higher torque from EVs.
But anything that makes noise in a vehicle will be under scrutiny from EV owners. Because EVs are quieter, there is not only extra emphasis to develop components that don’t make noise or keep noise out, owners will notice when something makes a noise — “Whether it’s things that are failing, or whether it’s things that need to work better, be more sophisticated,” McCarthy said.
There will also be growth in monitoring systems, like those for batteries and cooling systems. These “are growing so much importance as we try to protect that sensitive and highly expensive battery pack,” McCarthy said.
“History has told the aftermarket that every time there’s new technology in vehicles … when they first came along, there were a lot of problems. There were a lot of failures. And it turned into a bonanza for the aftermarket.”
Even in familiar systems, there’s greater complexity that the aftermarket needs to learn about, such as HVAC, heating and cooling components.
As EVs become more common, more issues will pop up that the aftermarket will not only need to know how to respond to, but also benefit from.
He pointed to the Ford Mach-E. It has more than 35 cooling hoses and more than 60 feet of hoses. Multiply that by the hundreds of new EVs that are set to be sold by 2030. “All of them bristling with new and often unproven technology,” McCarthy said.
Remember, automotive engineers are not perfect. The real world is different from testing environments. Things will break.
“History has told the aftermarket that every time there’s new technology in vehicles — from fuel injection, and emissions controls to back in the day with automatic transmissions and power steering and power brakes and air conditioning — when they first came along, there were a lot of problems. There were a lot of failures. And it turned into a bonanza for the aftermarket,” McCarthy said.
This is a technology wave that has never been seen before.
Also of note: Data from the North American Dealers Association reported that EVs are coming in for repairs at a higher rate than ICE vehicles in the last year (2.9 vs 2.3) and having more services per visit (3.9 vs 2.8).
And so while replacement rates go down, aftermarket revenue may still go up because of the cost to maintain and replace parts in an EV, especially with the complexity involved.
“So be very interesting to see how this develops as EVs age,” McCarthy said.